Nino made known to us recently that it is the Georgian way of life to never do anything today what can be done tomorrow; well, because tomorrow you might not have to do it anymore. ;)
I’m here in Georgia and find myself going back to something I had written for a college course on rhetoric.
I struggle with anxiety. It’s nothing major and definitely not anything that would require therapy or medication to fix. It’s more like an obsession-to-self-diagnose-myself-with-things-on-WebMD sort of issue. Everything stresses me out! So much so that a professor of mine used to write: “_________ stresses Carla out today,” and would laugh when I could always fill in the blank with something new yet nonetheless truthful. It could be my Type-A personality and my need for everything to be entirely perfect, or it could just be that I absolutely hate change. But c’mon, is there anyone who loves it? I could never quite comprehend the need for change. Can’t we just appreciate what we already have? You can call it a copout, but I call it a comfort zone. And most of us never venture very far out of it without a little uneasiness. After all, stress is the consequence of the failure to adapt to change. Or at least I use that as my excuse to justify my complaining about things that are new to me. I realize that I am the cause of most of my “stress” but in all actuality—it would be nice if it wasn’t always present. Regardless, turning molehills into mountains is something I’ve always been good at—and I say that with a smile.
I bet you see this one coming: All things Georgian stress me out! Certainly not in an I-regret-coming or I’d-rather-be-home-in-Chicago sort of way, but in a sense that I am constantly aware of my difference of ideology in this strange and foreign place. My schedule (save this week since we are intensely learning Georgian) is no schedule at all. Georgians wake up whenever they please, but no earlier than 10. This, of course, means that school starts no earlier than 10 and services also open no earlier than 10. The afternoons are completely free and it drives me utterly insane. We don’t eat lunch until 3 or later. The evenings are also free. Free to do…nothing. Dinner isn’t until 9 or later, and “bedtime” is much later than my strict sleeping schedule at home.
I’m writing this on September 2nd, but it may be a week or so before you are able to read it since there’s no internet here. Oh, we’re in Kutaisi now by the way. We start teaching in exactly two weeks and have no idea where or exactly what we will be teaching. We move in with our host families in a week and still have no idea who they are or in what city they live. Hence anxiety, and lots of it! If Americans ever vocalize these stresses, the Georgians respond nonchalantly with, “Not to worry. It’s not a problem.” Because nothing is ever a problem for Georgians. However, nothing being a problem is of course a problem in itself for me and this new lifestyle gives rise to an exponentially infinite amount of stress.
Well, or so I thought…
I decided that if I’m going to be living in Georgia that I should try my very best to live as Georgians do. So I bit my tongue (literally, nervous habit!) and dedicated the day to the great art of nothing. For two hours, I sat on the stoop of my hotel and watched and elderly couple bicker back and forth in Georgian. I just sat there. Listening. Watching. Inventing an English dialogue and smiling here and there at things I thought they might be or were probably saying. In the afternoon I dug Boggle out of my suitcase and tucked myself into a corner in the lobby to play a few solo rounds. A man who had been sleeping near me woke from the noise of the shaking dice and came to sit by me. He started speaking (much too fast for any new language learner…s l o o o o w w w d o w w n n n n p l e a s e) and I smiled and nodded in agreement to sounds that made absolutely no sense. He began pointing at the dice, so I pointed back to show him—without words—what I was doing. I pointed first to D, then R, then A, then W. Then I underlined the word “draw” where I had written it on my score sheet to show him that there was certainly a method to my dice-shaking madness. He then pointed to D, then Z, then M, then A, and wrote “dzma” on the paper. I shook my head no to this ridiculous and seemingly unknown combination of letters and pointed to another example of a word to show him that the letter combinations had to create a word and not simply be a random bunching of letters. He shook his head, pointed again to D, Z, M, and A, and then rigorously circled it and started speaking again in lots of Georgian. I decided to let him win this argument. I shook up the came, took off the case, set the timer, and he started searching and jotting down words (all words I did not know—he could have been making them up) so I also searched and jotted down my findings. This went on for an hour and a half. I played Boggle with someone whom I could not at all communicate with—my words in English, his in Georgian. I laughed again at my simple afternoon full of the ‘nothing’ that turned surprisingly into ‘something’ I will never, ever, ever forget.
My motto from this day forth will be qvelaperi kargad iqneba, which translates roughly to: everything will be okay.
So, while I have no idea what I am doing or where I am going, I will rest assured that the Georgians speak the truth when rid away all worries.
Cheers to Georgia, and to my wonderful afternoon of simplicity and bliss!